While you take care to brush and floss your teeth daily, people rarely pay so much attention to their ears. Often, if our ears are pain free and we do not experience any abnormalities or difficulty hearing, we usually do not pay them any mind. However, this is not always a best practice for maintaining the health of your ears long term. If you want to avoid permanent hearing damage, it is vital that you partner with a professional doctor ENT clinic to stay informed about the health of your ears. Here are five facts you may not have known about ear health.
1. You Should Toss Out the Cotton Swabs
When thinking about cleaning out your ears, your first thought is probably to reach for that trusty cotton swab, right? Wrong. According to most doctors, you should “never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.” While you can use a swab to clean the exterior folds of your ear, you should avoid using it to dig into your ears to remove wax. Often, all that you will do is push the wax deeper into your ear, possibly damaging the eardrum.
2. Cleaning Out Your Earwax is Easy!
Rather than using a swab to clean out your ear, it helps to understand what ear wax is. the ear canal produces ear wax as a healthy functioning of the ear. Usually, this is in small amounts and is not a serious issue. Most people can remove any excess ear wax using their household shower. Simply allow the warm (not cold or hot, as this can be painful and potentially cause vertigo) water to go down the ear canal, and then simply tilt your head to dump out the water. Additionally, a few drops of olive, mineral, or baby oil into your ears can help dislodge any stubborn earwax.
3. Nobody Knows Why Earwax Exists
While we know that earwax is typically produced in small amounts as a healthy and normal functioning of the ears, nobody knows why we have earwax. Some claim that it helps to balance the pH levels of the ears or it has antibacterial qualities. Doctors generally accept that earwax production must be some form of the ear’s self-cleaning mechanism.
What is strange is that some people make lots of ear wax, and others hardly make any at all. One claim is that earwax is meant to keep out bugs. And as it turns out, earwax is poisonous to bugs. This adaptation may have developed back when our earliest ancestors often slept on the ground.
4. The 3 Smallest Bones in the Body Are in the Ear
While many people have heard this before in a grade school biology book, it deserves mention that the malleus, incus and stapes (more commonly known as the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup) are the three smallest bones in the body. The purpose of these bones is to vibrate in response to sound, working like small amplifiers. These bones essentially translate soundwaves from energy into audio information that travels through your inner ear and nerves to the brain.
5. Ear Candles Can Be Deadly
Well, maybe if you burn the house down, but seriously, ear candling can be very dangerous to your ear health. If you do not know what ear candling is, it involves sticking a hollow candle into the ear, and then lighting the other end. The heat from the flame creates a vaccuum that allegedly draws the earwax out of the ear. However, there is zero evidence that ear candles actually do anything at all for the health of your ears or removing earwax. On the other hand, there reports of burns, ear canal occlusions, eardrum perforations, infections, and temporary hearing loss due to use of ear candles are abundant.